By John Tuerijama
IT will be all systems go at the coastal town of Swakopmund this weekend when the Namibian women’s indoor hockey team players lock horns with their South African counterparts in what is expected to be a fierce competition between Africa’s top rated playing nations.
Namibia has a psychological edge over their arch-rivals after having beaten South Africa twice in their three previous encounters. The national hockey side has recently improved their world ranking from 17th to 14th position and is destined to book a place at the 2018 Hockey World Cup billed for Argentina.
National team coach, Erwin Handura, said the team is mentally and physically better prepared than the last test held in Durban.
“The players started to believe in themselves that we can beat South Africa. We were doing some final touches and this added more value to the team’s overall preparations,’ said Handura.
When asked if Namibia can beat their counterparts convincingly, Handura said: “In my understanding, convincingly means to win at least three of the five matches and if that is the case then it is possible.”
“All we need to do is to create more chances and capitalise on those chances. This team is better than the team I had for the August (2016) Test Series in Durban, South Africa,” added the veteran coach.
He said the team’s individual skills level has improved drastically and that will surely boost the players’ morale.
“We are in the process to improve ball speed in order to create more scoring opportunities, and we also worked on various technical and tactical set plays, that will help us to do better in these upcoming test matches,” he noted.
“Unfortunately this is not the best team but it is a better team than the team I took to Durban in August. There are a couple of players that are not available due to other commitments and injuries,” he revealed.
“But just like in the previous tournaments we never had all the best players we have in Namibia at one single tournament and we managed to do well with what we have,” he stressed.
Handura called on Namibians living at the coast to go out in numbers to support the Namibian team, saying the showdown against South Africa is a lifetime opportunity for the hockey players and lovers of the sport.
“Let us use this opportunity and support our indoor national team players who are fully focused on the task at hand and ready to put a smile on their supporters’ faces,” he said.
He added with that said, sport is a nation builder and unifier and thus urged supporters to embrace the opportunity created through sport to fully rally behind the girls.
The team is captained by Magreth Mengo, a seasoned hockey player who had professional stints in different European countries. She will be deputised by Jericca Bartlett.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015